Fabric diaries

Diaries and journals, address and visitor’s books, cuttings and recipes, files and boxes all look so much easier on the eye with the addition of pretty fabric covers. There are a couple a quite simple methods that you can use to turn diaries into lovely gifts and plain notebooks into a handbag essential.

For diaries, loose covers make the best presents as they can be recycled with a new diary slipped into the same sleeve next year. Thick, hard-wearing tweed, woven wool fabrics or even denim are the best fabrics to use, so keep an eye out for kilts and coats that might be suitable. Welsh blankets and reclaimed cloth from picnic blankets look lovely, too.

Materials you need

hard backed diary;


paper for template;

pencil, pins and scissors;

suitable fabric;

tailor’s chalk;

tapestry needle;

woolen or cotton embroidery threads;

2 lengths of ribbon

How to make a fabric diary

Be aware when you are making this cover that if it fits snugly when the book is open, it will be too tight when the book is closed, so check before you sew.

1 Measure the height and width of the diary when it is closed and then make a template half a centimetre taller than the diary and nearly four times as wide as the book when closed.

2 Pin the template to the wrong side of the fabric and draw around it with chalk. Cut out the shape.

3 Place the middle of the fabric against the spine of the diary and wrap the fabric around it, folding the extra fabric inside the front and back covers. Trim off any excess fabric if these inner flaps extend too close to the spine. Use chalk to mark exactly where the folds are. Then unwrap the diary and start to sew.

4 If you want to decorate your covers, you can cut a simple shape from a contrasting-coloured fabric and stick it to your covers using PVA glue. Or you can thread up the needle with a length of embroidery thread or wool and embroider initials or a name, add the buttons, ribbon bows or beads.

5 Fold the cover back into the right shape, using the chalk lines as a guide, and pin the inner flaps to the front and back panels along the top and bottom. Use blanket stitch to sew the top and bottom seams, sewing through both layers of fabric. Make sure that the diaries fit snugly inside its cover and can be fully closed before you sew up the other side. Use blanket stitch to sew along the raw edges of the inner flaps to make them neat and tidy.

6 Sew on a couple of lengths of ribbon just inside the middle of the sides of the cover that can be tied together to hold the diary closed.

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